BA (Hons) English Language and Linguistics

Key information

Why choose this course?

  • no. 13 in the UK for English (2023 Guardian League Table)
  • Learn from research-active academics
  • Optional modules in English Language Teaching

Have you ever wondered why humans talk but animals can’t? Or where language comes from? You’ll find out in our English Language and Linguistics course. If you want to learn more about how languages are learnt, how people use language both face to face as well as in social media, and why the way we speak says so much about us – this might just be the course for you. You’ll explore why some words are considered ‘bad’ and others ‘polite’. You can also opt to study how our brain processes language and how children learn to talk. The course combines the scientific study of language with theories about communication, gender and language in context.    

At Herts, you’ll follow a flexible programme, which allows you to choose some of your modules. These range from forensic and clinical linguistics to child language and language and gender. We have our own eye-tracking suite, which you can use for experiments. You’ll look at language databases, real-life transcripts and recordings, as well as developing research skills. You’ll take part in workshops, discussions, and interactive sessions. 

Some of our graduates have pursued careers in education, business and marketing. Others have gone on to teach overseas or study speech-language therapy and psychology. After your second year, you have the option to study abroad or work for a year. This prepares you for the workplace when you finish your studies. If you prefer to go straight to your third year, but still want work experience, we can help you with this as well. There are plenty of ways to get involved in our clubs, societies and student media teams. This means you will leave us with academic and research skills, as well as valuable experience to impress employers. 

In the 2022 National Student Survey (NSS), our English Language and Linguistics degree achieved an overall satisfaction rating of 90%. When asked, 100% of students reported that teachers were good at explaining things and that they had the right opportunities to work with other students. Advice and guidance from lecturers was also praised highly at 90% - well above the sector average.

What's the course about?

In your first year, you will learn about the building blocks of language. Think about grammar, speech sounds and dialects. You’ll study communication and interaction, language in the media and you’ll investigate how to analyse language data. 

In your second year, you will build on the first-year modules. You’ll look in more depth at how we produce speech sounds, how a sentence is built and how languages differ. You will choose from a range of optional modules, giving you the chance to specialise in your field of interest. You can take forensic and psycholinguistic modules, look at research methods and even learn about English language teaching. You can also take a subject-specific careers module and get some relevant work experience. We offer a career development module in your second year that will equip you to take up an English Language teaching work placement, whether teaching phonics to primary school pupils or at a special needs school, or volunteering at the Stroke Association. You may also shadow speech and language therapists or help with specialist language teaching in a sixth form college.

Work placement/study abroad option: Between your second and final year, you’ll have the option to study abroad or do a work placement for up to a year. Not only will this give you an amazing experience to talk about but will also give your CV a boost. If you’d rather go straight to your final year, that’s absolutely fine too. 

In your final year, all modules are optional. This means you can choose whichever you like, leaving you free to focus on what interests you. For example, can do clinical linguistics, design your own research project and look at the social aspects of language, as well as explore collections of spoken or written language data. 

Your main campus is de Havilland

You’ll share this campus with students from business, law, sport, education, and humanities subjects. The student housing is close to our Sports Village which includes a gym, swimming pool and climbing wall. You can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner in our on-campus restaurant or bar (in the newly built Enterprise Hub) on days you don’t feel like cooking. You can also use the common room to play pool, video games or just to hang out with friends.  Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.  

What will I study?

Degree programmes are structured into levels, 4, 5 and 6.  These correspond to your first, second and third/final year of study.  Below you can see what modules you’ll be studying in each. 

Alumni headshot

Alumni Stories

Alex Olney

Meet Alex Olney who has applied his skills in communication to the gaming industry. He is currently a Senior Video Producer at Nintendo Life.

Read more stories Find out more about this course
Current job roleSenior Video Producer
Year of graduation2015
Course of studyBA(Hons) English Language and Communication
Alex Olney

University experience

While not his first choice of university, Alex is grateful that he applied to the University of Hertfordshire through Clearing as whilst at the University he discovered and explored his passion for everything linguistic. This passion has had a profound impact on his life since graduating.

He says, ‘Studying a language gave me confidence and a deeper understanding of human and non-human communication and has allowed me to create a distinct idiolect that identifies me as a creator and, more importantly, entertains tens of thousands of people every day.’

He credits his success to the support he received from his lecturers who encouraged him throughout his studies: ‘The lecturers were not only well informed about the subject matter but had a genuine passion for language.’ He states that they pushed him to explore languages so much so that ‘it became a driving force in my everyday life.’

Alex also believes that the transferable skills he learnt while at the University have helped him throughout his professional life including time management. He states that he learnt effective time management skills to ensure that he never leaves projects and deadlines to the last minute and plans out in advance what is required.

The future

Alex really enjoys his current role at Nintendo Life as he likes the hands on nature of producing content but would eventually like to manage and become a head of the video editing department.